Finding good employees takes a lot of work and time. No one started a business because they like to look through a pile of resumes.
So I always am interested in the techniques successful people use to find good people, no matter what business they are in.
Recently I read an article in The New York Times about the success Theo Epstein has had as the general manager of the Boston Red Sox (the team he put together won the World Series in 2004 and 2007) and now with the Chicago Cubs (best regular-season record in the major leagues) as president of baseball operations.
Epstein shared his thoughts with the newspaper about what he considers when looking at possible additions to his baseball team.
“In the draft room, we will always spend more than half the time talking about the person rather than the player,” Epstein said. “What are their backgrounds, their psyches, their habits, and what makes them tick?”
Nothing about their baseball skills! The measure of the potential employee as a human being is most significant.
Think about it. Yes, the talent Epstein is looking at is remarkable. But good talent won’t be what carries a player through the long season of professional baseball.
When assessing a potential employee consider what they have done in their lives besides their occupation. Ask “What do you do when you are not working?” “What do you do for fun?” “What brings you the most joy?” A person who knows himself well will be a better employee and easier to manage.
Epstein goes on to say:
We would ask our scouts to provide three detailed examples of how these young players faced adversity on the field and responded to it, and three examples of how they faced adversity off the field. Because baseball is built on failure. The old expression is that even the best hitter fails seven out of 10 times.
When interviewing a potential employee, ask these same questions. In the world of remodeling they might look like this: “Tell me about a situation on the job where you were challenged, stressed or frustrated and how you responded.” Once that question is answered ask: “Tell me about a situation when you were not at work where you were challenged, stressed or frustrated and how you responded.”
You are going to find out the answers to those questions at some point. A bad time is after the employee has been working for your company. A good time is before you hire them.
This is particularly important in a remodeling company because you will not be standing next to your employees all day, every day. You must hire people of good character who will represent your company well.
Remember, it is your team. You only want the best people. Craft knowledge can be taught but you can’t teach character.